[The Sidpa Bardo]
To the assembled Deities, to the Tutelaries, to the Gurus, Humbly is obeisance paid:
[The After-Death World]
[Introductory Instructions to the Officiant]: Although, heretofore, while in the Chönyid Bardo, many vivid remindings have been given -- setting aside those who have had great familiarity with the real Truth and those who have good karma -- for them of evil karma who have had no familiarity, and for them of evil karma who because of the influence thereof become stricken with fear and terror, recognition is difficult. These go down to the Fourteenth Day; and, to reimpress them vividly, that which follows is to be read.
[The Bardo Body: Its Birth and Its Supernormal Faculties]
Worship having been offered to the Trinity, and the prayer invoking the aid of the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas having been recited, then, calling the deceased by name, three or seven times, speak thus:
O nobly-born, listen thou well, and bear at heart that birth in the Hell-world, in the Deva-world, and in this Bardo-body is of the kind called supernormal birth.
Indeed, when thou wert experiencing the radiances of the Peaceful and the Wrathful, in the Chönyid Bardo, being unable to recognize, thou didst faint away, through fear, about three and one-half days [after thy decease]; and, then, when thou wert recovered from the swoon, thy Knower must have risen up in its primordial condition and a radiant body, resembling the former body, must have sprung forth -- as the Tantra says,
'Having a body [seemingly] fleshly [ resembling] the former and that to be produced,
Such, then, is the teaching.
That [radiant body] -- thus referred to as [resembling] 'the former and that to be produced' (meaning that one will have a body just like the body of flesh and blood, the former human, propensity body) -- will also be endowed with certain signs and beauties of perfection such as beings of high destiny possess.
This body, [born] of desire, is a thought-form hallucination in the Intermediate State, and it is called desire-body.
At that time -- if thou art to be born as a deva -- visions of the Deva-world will appear to thee; similarly -- wherever thou art to be born -- if as an asura, or a human being, or a brute, or a preta, or a being in Hell, a vision of the place will appear to thee.
Accordingly, the word 'former' [in the quotation] implieth that prior to the three and one-half days thou wilt have been thinking thou hadst the same sort of a body as the former body of flesh and blood, possessed by thee in the former existence because of habitual propensities; and the word 'produced' is so used because, afterwards, the vision of thy future place of birth will appear to thee. Hence, the expression as a whole, 'former and that to be produced', referreth to these [i.e. the fleshly body just discarded and the fleshly body to be assumed at rebirth].
At that time, follow not the visions which appear to thee. Be not attracted; be not weak: if, through weakness, thou be fond of them, thou wilt have to wander amidst the Six Lokas and suffer pain.
Up to the other day thou wert unable to recognize the Chönyid Bardo and hast had to wander down this far. Now, if thou art to hold fast to the real Truth, thou must allow thy mind to rest undistractedly in the nothing-to-do, nothing-to-hold condition of the unobscured, primordial, bright, void state of thine intellect, to which thou hast been introduced by the guru. [Thereby] thou wilt obtain Liberation without having to enter the door of the womb. But if thou art unable to know thyself, then, whosoever may be thy tutelary deity and thy guru, meditate on them, in a state of intense fondness and humble trust, as overshadowing the crown of thy head. This is of great importance. Be not distracted.
[Instructions to the Officiant]: Thus speak, and, if recognition result from that, Liberation will be obtained, without need of the wandering in the Six Lokas. If, however, through influence of bad karma, recognition is made difficult, thereupon say as follows:
O nobly-born, again listen. 'Endowed with all sense-faculties and power of unimpeded motion' implieth [that although] thou mayst have been, when living, blind of the eye, or deaf, or lame, yet on this After-Death Plane thine eyes will see forms, and thine ears will hear sounds, and all other sense-organs of thine will be unimpaired and very keen and complete. Wherefore the Bardo-body hath been spoken of as 'endowed with all sense-faculties'. That [condition of existence, in which thou thyself now art] is an indication that thou art deceased and wandering in the Bardo. Act so as to know this. Remember the teachings; remember the teachings.
O nobly-born, 'unimpeded motion' implieth that thy present body being a desire-body-thine intellect having been separated from its seat-is not a body of gross matter, so that now thou hast the power to go right through any rock-masses, hills, boulders, earth, houses, and Mt. Meru itself without being impeded. Excepting Budh-Gaya and the mother's womb, even the King of Mountains, Mt. Meru itself, can be passed through by thee, straight forwards and backwards unimpededly. That, too, is an indication that thou art wandering in the Sidpa Bardo. Remember thy guru's teachings, and pray to the Compassionate Lord.
O nobly-born, thou art actually endowed with the power of miraculous action, which is not, however, the fruit of any samādhi, but a power come to thee naturally; and, therefore, it is of the nature of karmic power. Thou art able in a moment to traverse the four continents round about Mr. Meru. Or thou canst instantaneously arrive in whatever place thou wishest ; thou hast the power of reaching there within the time which a man taketh to bend, or to stretch forth his hand. These various powers of illusion and of shape-shifting desire not, desire not.
None is there [of such powers] which thou mayest desire which thou canst not exhibit. The ability to exercise them unimpededly existeth in thee now. Know this, and pray to the guru.
O nobly-born, 'Visible to pure celestial eyes of like nature' implieth that those [beings] of like nature, being those of similar constitution [or level of knowledge] in the Intermediate State, will individually see each other. For example, those beings who are destined to be born amongst devas will see each other [and so on]. Dote not on them [seen by thee], but meditate upon the Compassionate One.
'Visible to pure celestial eyes' [also] implieth that the devas, being born [pure] in virtue of merit, are visible to the pure celestial eyes of those who practice dhyāna. These will not see them at all times; when mentally concentrated [upon them] they see [them], when not, they see [them] not. Sometimes, even when practicing dhyāna, they are liable to become distracted [and not see them].
[Characteristics of Existence in the Intermediate State]
O nobly-born, the possessor of that sort of body will see places [familiarly known on the earth-plane] and relatives [there] as one seeth another in dreams.
Thou seest thy relatives and connexions and speakest to them, but receivest no reply. Then, seeing them and thy family weeping, thou thinkest, 'I am dead! What shall I do?' and feelest great misery, just like a fish cast out [of water] on red-hot embers. Such misery thou wilt be experiencing at present. But feeling miserable will avail thee nothing now. If thou hast a divine guru, pray to him. Pray to the Tutelary Deity, the Compassionate One. Even though thou feelest attachment for thy relatives and connexions, it will do thee no good. So be not attached. Pray to the Compassionate Lord; thou shalt have nought or sorrow, or of terror, or of awe.
O nobly-born, when thou art driven [hither and thither] by the ever-moving wind of karma, thine intellect, having no object upon which to rest, will be like a feather tossed about by the wind, riding on the horse of breath. Ceaselessly and involuntarily wilt thou be wandering about. To all those who are weeping [thou wilt say], 'Here I am; weep not.' But they not hearing thee, thou wilt think, 'I am dead!' And again, at that time, thou wilt be feeling very miserable. Be not miserable in that way.
There will be a grey twilight-like light, both by night and by day, and at all times. In that kind of Intermediate State thou wilt be either for one, two, three, four, five, six, or seven weeks, until the forty-ninth day. It hath been said that ordinarily the miseries of the Sidpa Bardo are experienced for about twenty-two days; but, because of the determining influence of karma, a fixed period is not assured.
O nobly-born, at about that time, the fierce wind of karma, terrific and hard to endure, will drive thee [onwards], from behind, in dreadful gusts. Fear it not. That is thine own illusion. Thick awesome darkness will appear in front of thee continually, from the midst of which there will come such terror-producing utterances as 'Strike! Slay!' and similar threats. Fear these not.
In other cases, of persons of much evil karma, karmically-produced flesh-eating rākshasas [or demons] bearing various weapons will utter, 'Strike! Slay!' and so on, making a frightful tumult. They will come upon one as if competing amongst themselves as to which [of them] should get hold of one. Apparitional illusions, too, of being pursued by various terrible beasts of prey will dawn. Snow, rain, darkness, fierce blasts [of wind], and hallucinations of being pursued by many people likewise will come; [and] sounds as of mountains crumbling down, and of angry overflowing seas, and of the roaring of fire, and of fierce winds springing up.
When these sounds come one, being terrified by them, will flee before them in every direction, not caring whither one fleeth. But the way will be obstructed by three awful precipices -- white, and black, and red. They will be terror-inspiring and deep, and one will feel as if one were about to fall down them. O nobly-born, they are not really precipices; they are Anger, Lust, and Stupidity.
Know at that time that it is the Sidpa Bardo [in which thou art]. Invoking, by name, the Compassionate One, pray earnestly, thus: 'O Compassionate Lord, and my Guru, and the Precious Trinity, suffer it not that I (so-and-so by name) fall into the unhappy worlds.' Act so as to forget this not.
Others who have accumulated merit, and devoted themselves sincerely to religion, will experience various delightful pleasures and happiness and ease in full measure. But that class of neutral beings who have neither earned merit nor created bad karma will experience neither pleasure nor pain, but a sort of colourless stupidity of indifference. O nobly-born, whatever cometh in that manner -- whatever delightful pleasures thou mayst experience -- be not attracted by them; dote not [on them]: think, 'May the Guru and the Trinity be worshipped [with these merit-given delights]'. Abandon all dotings and hankerings.
Even though thou dost not experience pleasure, or pain, but only indifference, keep thine intellect in the undistracted state of the [meditation upon the] Great Symbol, without thinking that thou art meditating. This is of vast importance.
O nobly-born, at that time, at bridge-heads, in temples, by stūpas of eight kinds, thou wilt rest a little while, but thou wilt not be able to remain there very long, for thine intellect hath been separated from thine [earth-plane] body. Because of this inability to loiter, thou oft-times wilt feel perturbed and vexed and panic-stricken. At times, thy Knower will be dim; at times, fleeting and incoherent. Thereupon this thought will occur to thee, 'Alas! I am dead! What shall I do?' and because of such thought the Knower will become saddened and the heart chilled, and thou wilt experience infinite misery of sorrow. Since thou canst not rest in any one place, and feel impelled to go on, think not of various things, but allow the intellect to abide in its own [unmodified] state.
As to food, only that which hath been dedicated to thee can be partaken of by thee, and no other food. As to friends at this time, there will be no certainty.
These are the indications of the wandering about on the Sidpa Bardo of the mental-body. At the time, happiness and misery will depend upon karma.
Thou wilt see thine own home, the attendants, relatives, and the corpse, and think, 'Now I am dead! What shall I do?' and being oppressed with intense sorrow, the thought will occur to thee, 'O what would I not give to possess a body!' And so thinking, thou wilt be wandering hither and thither seeking a body.
Even though thou couldst enter thy dead body nine times over -- owing to the long interval which thou hast passed in the Chönyid Bardo -- it will have been frozen if in winter, been decomposed if in summer, or, otherwise, thy relatives will have cremated it, or interred it, or thrown it into the water, or given it to the birds and beasts of pray. Wherefore finding no place for thyself to enter into, thou wilt be dissatisfied and have the sensation of being squeezed into cracks and crevices amidst rocks and boulders. The experiencing of this sort of misery occurs in the Intermediate State when seeking rebirth. Even though thou seekest a body, thou wilt gain nothing but trouble. Put aside the desire for a body; and permit thy mind to abide in the state of resignation, and act so as to abide therein.
By thus being set face to face, one obtaineth liberation from the Bardo.
[Instructions to the Officiant]: Yet, again, it may be possible that because of the influence of bad karma one will not recognize even thus. Therefore, call the deceased by name, and speak as follows:
O nobly-born, (so-and-so), listen. That thou art suffering so cometh from thine own karma; it is not due to any one else's: it is by thine own karma. Accordingly, pray earnestly to the Precious Trinity; that will protect thee. If thou neither prayest nor knowest how to meditate upon the Great Symbol nor upon any tutelary deity, the Good Genius, who was born simultaneously with thee, will come now and count out thy good deeds [with] white pebbles, and the Evil Genius, who was born simultaneously with thee, will come and count out thy evil deeds [with] black pebbles. Thereupon, thou wilt be greatly frightened, awed, and terrified, and wilt tremble; and thou wilt attempt to tell lies, saying, 'I have not committed any evil deed'.
Then the Lord of Death will say, ' I will consult the Mirror of Karma'.
So saying, he will look in the Mirror, wherein every good and evil act is vividly reflected. Lying will be of no avail.
Then [one of the Executive Furies of] the Lord of Death will place round thy neck a rope and drag thee along; he will cut off thy head, extract thy heart, pull out thy intestines, lick up thy brain, drink thy blood, eat thy flesh, and gnaw thy bones; but thou wilt be incapable of dying. Although thy body be hacked to pieces, it will revive again. The repeated hacking will cause intense pain and torture.
Even at the time that the pebbles are being counted out, be not frightened, nor terrified; tell no lies; and fear not the Lord of Death.
Thy body being a mental body is incapable of dying even though beheaded and quartered. In reality, thy body is of the nature of voidness; thou needst not be afraid. The Lords of Death are thine own hallucinations. Thy desire-body is a body of propensities, and void. Voidness cannot injure voidness; the qualityless cannot injure the qualityless.
Apart from one's own hallucinations, in reality there are no such things existing outside oneself as Lord of Death, or god, or demon, or the Bull-headed Spirit of Death. Act so as to recognize this.
At this time, act so as to recognize that thou art in the Bardo. Meditate upon the Samādhi of the Great Symbol. If thou dost not know how to meditate, then merely analyse with care the real nature of that which is frightening thee. In reality it is not formed into anything, but is a Voidness which is the Dharma-Kāya.
That Voidness is not of the nature of the voidness of nothingness, but a Voidness at the true nature of which thou feelest awed, and before which thine intellect shineth clearly and more lucidly; that is the [state of] mind of the Sambhoga-Kāya.
In that state wherein thou art existing, there is being experienced by thee, in an unbearable intensity, voidness and Brightness inseparable -- the Voidness bright by nature and the Brightness by nature void, and the Brightness inseparable from the Voidness -- a state of the primordial [or unmodified] intellect, which is the Ādi-Kāya. And the power of this, shining unobstructedly, will radiate everywhere; it is the Nirmāna-Kāya.
O nobly-born, listen unto me undistractedly. By merely recognizing the Four Kāyas, thou art certain to obtain perfect Emancipation in any of Them. Be not distracted. The line of demarcation between Buddhas and sentient beings lieth herein. This moment is one of great importance; if thou shouldst be distracted now, it will require innumerable aeons of time for thee to come out of the Quagmire of Misery.
A saying, the truth of which is applicable, is:
Till the moment which hath just passed, all this Bardo hath been dawning upon thee and yet thou hast not recognized, because of being distracted. On this account, thou hast experienced all the fear and terror. Shouldst thou become distracted now, the chords of divine compassion of the Compassionate Eyes will break, and thou wilt go into the place from which there is no [immediate] liberation. Therefore, be careful. Even though thou hast not recognized ere this -- despite thus being set face to face -- thou wilt recognize and obtain liberation here.
[Instructions to the Officiant]: If it be an illiterate boor who knoweth not how to meditate, then say this:
O nobly-born, if thou knowest not how thus to meditate, act so as to remember the Compassionate One, and the Sangha, the Dharma, and the Buddha, and pray. Think of all these fears and terrifying apparitions as being thine own tutelary deity, or as the Compassionate One. Bring to thy recollection the mystic name that hath been given thee at the time of thy sacred initiation when thou wert a human being, and the name of thy guru, and tell them to the Righteous King of the Lord[s] of Death. Even though thou fallest down precipices, thou wilt not be hurt. Avoid awe and terror.
[The All-Determining Influence of Thought]
[Instructions to the Officiant]: Say that; for by such setting-face-to-face, despite the previous non-liberation, liberation ought surely to be obtained here. Possible, [however,] liberation may not be obtained even after that setting-face-to-face; and earnest and continued application being essential, again calling the deceased by name, speak as follows:
O nobly-born, thy immediate experiences will be of momentary joys followed by momentary sorrows, of great intensity, like the [taut and relaxed] mechanical actions of catapults. Be not in the least attached [to the joys] nor displeased [by the sorrows] of that.
If thou art to be born on a higher plane, the vision of that higher plane will be dawning upon thee.
Thy living relatives may -- by way of dedication for the benefit of thee deceased -- be sacrificing many animals, and performing religious ceremonies, and giving alms. Thou, because of thy vision not being purified, mayst be inclined to grow very angry at their actions and bring about, at this moment, thy birth in Hell: whatever those left behind thee may be doing, act thou so that no angry thought can arise in thee, and meditate upon love for them.
Furthermore, even if thou feelest attached to the worldly goods thou hast left behind, or, because of seeing such worldly goods of thine in the possession of other people and being enjoyed by them, thou shouldst feel attached to them through weakness, or feel angry with thy successors, that feeling will affect the psychological moment in such a way that, even though thou wert destined to be born on higher and happier planes, thou wilt be obliged to be born in Hell, or in the world of pretas [or unhappy ghosts]. On the other hand, even if thou art attached to worldly goods left behind, thou wilt not be able to possess them, and they will be of no use to thee. Therefore, abandon weakness and attachment for them; cast them away wholly; renounce them from thy heart. No matter who may be enjoying thy worldly goods, have no feeling of miserliness, but be prepared to renounce them willingly. Think that thou art offering them to the Precious Trinity and to thy guru, and abide in the feeling of unattachment, devoid of weakness [of desire].
Again, when any recitation of the Kamkanī Mantra is being made on thy behalf as a funeral rite, or when any rite for the absolving of bad karma liable to bring about thy birth in lower regions is being performed for thee, the sight of their being conducted in an incorrect way, mixed up with sleep and distraction and non-observance of the vows and lack of purity [on the part of any officiant], and such things indicating levity -- all of which thou wilt be able to see because thou art endowed with limited karmic power of prescience -- thou mayst feel lack of faith and entire disbelief [in thy religion]. Thou wilt be able to apprehend any fear and fright, any black actions, irreligious conduct, and incorrectly recited rituals. In thy mind thou mayst think, 'Alas! Thy are, indeed, playing me false'. Thinking thus, thou wilt be extremely depressed, and, through great resentment, thou wilt acquire disbelief and loss of faith, instead of affection and humble trustfulness. This affecting the psychological moment, thou wilt be certain to be born in one of the miserable states.
Such [thought] will not only be of no use to thee, but will do thee great harm. However incorrect the ritual and improper the conduct of the priests performing thy funeral rites, [think], 'What! Mine own thoughts must be impure! How can it be possible that the words of the Buddha should be incorrect? It is like the reflection of the blemishes on mine own face which I see in a mirror; mine own thoughts must [indeed] be impure. As for these [i.e. the priests], the Sangha is their body, the Dharma their utterance, and in their mind they are the Buddha in reality: I will take refuge in them'.
Thus thinking, put thy trust in them and exercise sincere love towards them. Then whatever is done for thee [by those] left behind will truly tend to thy benefit. Therefore the exercise of that love is of much importance; do not forget this.
Again, even if thou wert to be born in one of the miserable states and the light of that miserable state shone upon thee, yet by thy successors and relatives performing white religious rites unmixed with evil actions, and the abbots and learned priests devoting themselves, body, speech, and mind, to the performance of the correct meritorious rituals, the delight from thy feeling greatly cheered at seeing them will, by its own virtue, so affect the psychological moment that, even though thou deservest a birth in the unhappy states, there will be brought about thy birth on a higher and happier plane. [Therefore] thou shouldst not create impious thoughts, but exercise pure affection and humble faith towards all impartially. This is highly important. Hence be extremely careful.
O nobly-born, to sum up: thy present intellect in the Intermediate State having no firm object whereon to depend, being of little weight and continuously in motion, whatever thought occur to thee now -- be it pious or impious -- will wield great power; therefore think not in thy mind of impious things, but recall any devotional exercises; or, if thou wert unaccustomed to any such exercises, [show forth] pure affection and humble faith; pray to the Compassionate One, or to thy tutelary deities; with full resolve, utter this prayer:
Earnest prayer in this form will be sure to guide thee along; thou mayst rest assured that thou wilt not be deceived. Of great importance is this: through that being recited, again recollection cometh; and recognition and liberation will be achieved.
[The Dawning of the Lights of the Six Lokas]
[Instructions to the Officiant]: Yet -- though this [instruction] be so oft repeated -- if recognition be difficult, because of the influence of evil karma, much benefit will come from repeating these settings-face-to-face many times over. Once more, [then,] call the deceased by name, and speak as follows:
O nobly-born, if thou hast been unable to apprehend the above, henceforth the body of the past life will become more and more dim and the body of the future life will become more and more clear. Saddened at this [thou wilt think], 'O what misery I am undergoing! Now, whatever body I am to get, I shall go and seek [it]'. So thinking, thou wilt be going hither and thither, ceaselessly and distractedly. Then there will shine upon thee the lights of the Six Sangsaric Lokas. The light of that place wherein thou art to be born, through power of karma, will shine most prominently.
O nobly-born, listen. If thou desirest to know what those six lights are; there will shine upon thee a dull white light from the Deva-world, a dull green light from the Asura-world, a dull yellow light from the Human-world, a dull blue light from the Brute-world, a dull red light from the Preta-world, and a smoke-coloured light from the Hell-world. At that time, by the power of karma, thine own body will partake of the colour of the light of the place wherein thou art to be born.
O nobly-born, the special art of these teachings is especially important at this moment: whichever light shineth upon thee now, meditate upon it as being the Compassionate One; from whatever place the light cometh, consider that [place] to be [or to exist in] the Compassionate One. This is an exceedingly profound art; it will prevent birth. Or whosoever thy tutelary deity may be, meditate upon the form for much time -- as being apparent yet non-existent in reality, like a form produced by a magician. That is called the pure illusory form. Then let the [visualization of the] tutelary deity melt away from the extremities, till nothing at all remaineth visible of it; and put thyself in the state of the Clearness and the Voidness -- which thou canst not conceive as something -- and abide in that state for a little while. Again meditate upon the tutelary deity; again meditate upon the Clear Light: do this alternately. Afterwards, allow thine own intellect also to melt away gradually, [beginning] from the extremities.
Wherever the ether pervadeth, consciousness pervadeth; wherever consciousness pervadeth, the Dharma-Kāya pervadeth. Abide tranquilly in the uncreated state of the Dharma-Kāya. In that state, birth will be obstructed and Perfect Enlightenment gained.
[The Process of Rebirth]
[The Closing of the Door of the Womb]
[Instructions to the Officiant]: Again, if through great weakness in devotions and lack of familiarity one be not able to understand, illusion may overcome one, and one will wander to the doors of wombs. The instruction for the closing of the womb-doors becometh very important; call the deceased by name and say this:
O nobly-born, if thou hast not understood the above at this moment, through the influence of karma, thou wilt have the impression that thou art either ascending, or moving along on a level, or going downwards. Thereupon, meditate upon the Compassionate One. Remember. Then, as said above, gusts of wind, and icy blasts, hail-storms, and darkness, and impression of being pursued by many people will come upon thee. On fleeing from these [hallucinations], those who are unendowed with meritorious karma will have the impression of fleeing into places of misery; those who are endowed with meritorious karma will have the impression of arriving in places of happiness. Thereupon, O nobly-born, in whatever continent or place thou art to be born, the signs of that birthplace will shine upon thee then.
For this moment there are several vital profound teachings. Listen undistractedly. Even though thou hast not apprehended by the above settings-face-to-face, here [thou wilt, because] even those who are very weak in devotions will recognize the signs. Therefore listen.
[Instructions to the Officiant]: Now it is very important to employ the methods of closing the womb-door. Wherefore it is necessary to exercise the utmost care. There are two [chief] ways of closing: preventing the being who would enter from entering, and closing the womb-door which might be entered.
[Method of Preventing Entry into a Womb]
The instructions for preventing the being from entering are thus:
O nobly-born, (so-and-so by name,) whosoever may have been thy tutelary deity, tranquilly meditate upon him-as upon the reflection of the moon in water, apparent yet non-existent [as a moon], like a magically-produced illusion. If thou hast no special tutelary, meditate either upon the Compassionate Lord or upon me; and, with this in mind, meditate tranquilly.
Then, causing the [visualized form of the] tutelary deity to melt away from the extremities, meditate, without any thought-forming, upon the vacuous Clear Light. This is a very profound art; in virtue of it, a womb is not entered.
[The First Method of Closing the Womb-Door]
In that manner meditate; but even though this be found inadequate to prevent thee from entering into a womb, and if thou findest thyself ready to enter into one, then there is the profound teaching for closing the womb-door. Listen thou unto it:
Repeat this, from thine own mouth, distinctly; and remember its meaning vividly, and meditate upon it. The putting of this into practice is essential.
The significance of the above teaching, 'When, at this time, the Sidpa Bardo is dawning upon me [or upon oneself]', is that now thou art wandering in the Sidpa Bardo. As a sign of this, if thou lookest into water, or into mirrors, thou wilt see no reflection of thy face or body; nor doth thy body cast any shadow. Thou hast discarded now thy gross material body of flesh and blood. These are the indications that thou art wandering about in the Sidpa Bardo.
At this time, thou must form, without distraction, one single resolve in thy mind. The forming of one single resolve is very important now. It is like directing the course of a horse by the use of the reins.
Whatever thou desirest will come to pass. Think not upon evil actions which might turn the course [of thy mind]. Remember thy [spiritual] relationship with the Reader of this Bardo Thödol, or with any one from whom thou hast received teachings, initiation, or spiritual authorization for reading religious texts while in the human world; and persevere in going on with good acts: this is very essential. Be not distracted. The boundary line between going upwards or going downwards is here now. If thou givest way to indecision for even a second, thou wilt have to suffer misery for a long, long time. This is the moment. Hold fast to one single purpose. Persistently join up the chain of good acts.
Thou hast come now to the time of closing the womb-door. 'This is a time when earnestness and pure love are necessary', which implieth that now the time hath come when, first of all, the womb-door should be closed, there being five methods of closing. Bear this well at heart.
[The Second Method of Closing the Womb-Door]
O nobly-born, at this time thou wilt see visions of males and females in union. When thou seest them, remember to withhold thyself from going between them. Regarding the father and mother as thy Guru and the Divine Mother, meditate upon them and bow down; humbly exercise thy faith; offer up mental worship with great fervency; and resolve that thou wilt request [of them] religious guidance.
By that resolution alone, the womb ought certainly to be closed; but if it is not closed even by that, and thou findest thyself ready to enter into it, meditate upon the Divine Guru Father-Mother, as upon any tutelary deity, or upon the Compassionate Tutelary and Shakti; and meditating upon them, worship them with mental offerings. Resolve earnestly that thou wilt request [of them] a boon. By this, the womb-door ought to be closed.
[The Third Method of Closing the Womb-Door]
Still, if it be not closed even by that, and thou findest thyself ready to enter the womb, the third method of repelling attachment and repulsion is hereby shown unto thee:
There are four kinds of birth: birth by egg, birth by womb, supernormal birth, and birth by heat and moisture. Amongst these four, birth by egg and birth by womb agree in character.
As above said, the visions of males and females in union will appear. If, at that time, one entereth into the womb through the feelings of attachment and repulsion, one may be born either as a horse, a fowl, a dog, or a human being.
If [about] to be born as a male, the feeling of itself being a male dawneth upon the Knower, and a feeling of intense hatred towards the father and of jealousy and attraction towards the mother is begotten. If [about] to be born as a female, the feeling of itself being a female dawneth upon the Knower, and a feeling of intense hatred towards the mother and of intense attraction and fondness towards the father is begotten. Through this secondary cause -- [when] entering upon the path of ether, just at the moment when the sperm and the ovum are about to unite -- the Knower experienceth the bliss of the simultaneously-born state, during which state it fainteth away into unconsciousness. [Afterwards] it findeth itself encased in oval form, in the embryonic state, and upon emerging from the womb and opening its eyes it may find itself transformed into a young dog. Formerly it had been a human being, but now if it have become a dog it findeth itself undergoing sufferings in a dog's kennel; or [perhaps] as a young pig in a pigsty, or as an ant in an ant-hill, or as an insect, or a grub in a hole, or as a calf, or a kid, or a lamb, from which shape there is no [immediate] returning. Dumbness, stupidity, and miserable intellectual obscurity are suffered, and a variety of sufferings experienced. In like manner, one may wander into hell, or into the world of unhappy ghosts, or throughout the Six Lokas, and endure inconceivable miseries.
Those who are voraciously inclined towards this [i.e. sangsaric existence], or those who do not at heart fear it -- O dreadful! O dreadful! Alas! -- and those who have not received a guru's teachings, will fall down into the precipitous depths of the Sangsāra in this manner, and suffer interminably and unbearably. Rather than meet with a like fate, listen thou unto my words and bear these teachings of mine at heart.
Reject the feelings of attraction or repulsion, and remember one method of closing the womb-door which I am going to show to thee. Close the womb-door and remember the opposition. This is the time when earnestness and pure love are necessary. As hath been said, 'Abandon jealousy, and meditate upon the Guru Father-Mother.
As above explained, if to be born as a male, attraction towards the mother and repulsion towards the father, and if to be born as a female, attraction towards the father and repulsion towards the mother, together with a feeling of jealousy [for one or the other] which ariseth, will dawn upon thee.
For that time there is a profound teaching. O nobly-born, when the attraction and repulsion arise, meditate as follows:
'Alas! what a being of evil karma am I! That I have wandered in the Sangsāra hitherto, hath been owing to attraction and repulsion. If I still go on feeling attraction and repulsion, then I shall wander in endless Sangsāra and suffer in the Ocean of Misery for a long, long time, by sinking therein. Now I must not act through attraction and repulsion. Alas, for me! Henceforth I will never act through attraction and repulsion.'
Meditating thus, resolve firmly that thou wilt hold on to that [resolution]. It hath been said, in the Tantras, 'The door of the womb will be closed up by that alone.'
O nobly-born, be not distracted. Hold thy mind one-pointedly upon that resolution.
[The Fourth Method of Closing the Womb-Door]
Again, even if that doth not close the womb, and one findenth [oneself] ready to enter the womb, then by means of the teaching [called] 'The Untrue and the Illusory' the womb should be closed. That is to be meditated as follows:
'O, the pair, the father and the mother, the black rain, the storm-blasts, the clashing sounds, the terrifying apparitions, and all the phenomena, are, in their true nature, illusions. Howsoever they may appear, no truth is there [in them]; all substances are unreal and false. Like dreams and like apparitions are they; they are non-permanent; they have no fixity. What advantage is there in being attached [to them]! What advantage is there in having fear and terror of them! It is the seeing of the non-existent as the existent. All these are hallucinations of one's own mind. The illusory mind itself doth not exist from eternity; therefore where should these external [phenomena] exist?
'I, by not having understood these [things] in that way hitherto, have held the non-existent to be the existent, the unreal to be the real, the illusory to be the actual, and have wandered in the Sangsāra so long. And even now if I do not recognize them to be illusions, then, wandering in the Sangsāra for long ages, [I shall be] certain to fall into the morass of various miseries.
'Indeed, all these are like dreams, like hallucinations, like echoes, like the cities of the Odour-eaters, like mirage, like mirrored forms, like phantasmagoria, like the moon seen in water -- not real even for a moment. In truth, they are unreal; they are false.'
By holding one-pointedly to that train of thought, the belief that they are real is dissipated; and, that being impressed upon the inner continuity [of consciousness], one turneth backwards: if the knowledge of the unreality be impressed deeply in that way, the womb-door will be closed.
[The Fifth Method of Closing the Womb-Door]
Still, even when this is done, if the holding [phenomena] as real remaineth undissolved, the womb-door is not closed; and, if one be ready to enter into the womb, thereupon one should close the womb-door by meditating upon the Clear Light, this being the fifth [method]. The meditation is performed as follows:
'Lo! All substances are mine own mind; and this mind is vacuousness, is unborn, and unceasing.'
Thus meditating, allow the mind to rest in the uncreated [state] -- like, for example, the pouring of water into water. The mind should be allowed its own easy mental posture, in its natural [or unmodified] condition, clear and vibrant. By maintaining this relaxed, uncreated [state of mind], the womb-doors of the four kinds of birth are sure to be closed. Meditate thus until the closing is successfully accomplished.
[Instructions to the Officiant]: Many very profound teachings for closing the womb-door have been given above. It is impossible that they should not liberate people of the highest, the average, and the lowest intellectual capacity. If it be asked why this should be so, it is because, firstly, the consciousness in the Bardo possessing supernormal power of perception of a limited kind, whatever is spoken to one then is apprehended. Secondly, because -- although [formerly] deaf or blind -- here, at this time, all one's faculties are perfect, and one can hear whatever is addressed to one. Thirdly, being continually pursued by awe and terror, one thinketh, 'What is best?' and, being alertly conscious, one is always coming to hear whatever may be told to one. Since the consciousness is without a prop, it immediately goeth to whatever place the mind directeth. Fourthly, it is easy to direct it. The memory is ninefold more lucid than before. Even though stupid [before], at this time, by the workings of karma, the intellect becometh exceedingly clear and capable of meditating whatever is taught to it. [Hence the answer is], it is because it [i.e. the Knower] possesseth these virtues.
That the performance of funeral rites should be efficacious, is, likewise, because of that reason. Therefore, the perseverance in the reading of the Great Bardo Thödol for forty-nine days is of the utmost importance. Even if not liberated at one setting-face-to-face, one ought to be liberated at another; this is why so many different settings-face-to-face are necessary.
[The Choosing of the Womb-Door]
[Instructions to the Officiant]: There are, nevertheless, many classes of those who -- though reminded, and instructed to direct their thoughts one-pointedly -- are not liberated, owing to the great force of evil karmic obscurations, and because of being unaccustomed to pious deeds, and of being much accustomed to impious deeds throughout the aeons. Therefore, if the womb-door hath not been closed ere this, a teaching also for the selection of a womb-door is going to be given hereinafter. Now, invoking the aid of all the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas, repeat the Refuge; and, once more calling the deceased by name thrice, speak as follows:
'O nobly-born, (so-and-so) listen. Although the above setting-face-to-face teachings have been given one-pointedly, yet thou hast not understood them. Therefore, if the womb-door hath not been closed, it is almost time to assume a body. Make thy selection of the womb [according to] this best teaching. Listen attentively, and hold it in mind.
[The Premonitory Visions of the Place of Rebirth]
O nobly-born, now the signs and characteristics of the place of birth will come. Recognize them. In observing the place of birth, choose the continent too.
If to be born in the Eastern Continent of Lüpah, a lake adorned with swans, male and female, [floating thereon], will be seen. Go not there. Recollect the revulsion [against going there]. If one goeth there, [that] Continent -- though endowed with bliss and ease -- is one wherein religion doth not predominate. Therefore, enter not therein.
If to be born in the Southern Continent of Jambu, grand delightful mansions will be seen. Enter therein, if one is to enter.
If to be born in the Western Continent of Balang-Chöd, a lake adorned with horses, male and female, [grazing on its shores], will be seen. Go not even there, but return here. Although wealth and abundance are there, that being a land wherein religion doth not prevail, enter not there.
If to be born in the Northern Continent of Daminyan, a lake adorned with male and female cattle, [grazing on its shores], or trees, [round about it], will be seen. Although duration of life, and merits are there, yet that Continent, too, is one wherein religion doth not predominate. Therefore enter not.
These are the premonitory signs [or visions] of the taking rebirth in those [Continents]. Recognize them. Enter not.
If one is to be born as a deva, delightful temples [or mansions] built of various precious metals also will be seen. One may enter therein; so enter therein.
If to be born as an asura, either a charming forest will be seen or else circles of fire revolving in opposite directions. Recollect the revulsion; and do not enter therein by any means.
If to be born amongst beasts, rock-caverns and deep holes in the earth and mists will appear. Enter not therein.
If to be born amongst pretas, desolate treeless plains and shallow caverns, jungle glades and forest wastes will be seen. If one goeth there, taking birth as a preta, one will suffer various pangs of hunger and thirst. Recollect the revulsion; and do not go there by any means. Exert great energy [not to enter therein].
If to be born in Hell, songs [like wailings], due to evil karma, will be heard. [One will be] compelled to enter therein unresistingly. Lands of gloom, black houses, and white houses, and black holes in the earth, and black roads along which one hath to go, will appear. If one goeth there, one will enter into Hell; and, suffering unbearable pains of heat and cold, one will be very long in getting out of it. Go not there into the midst of that. It hath been said, 'Exert thine energy to the utmost': this is needed now.
[The Protection Against the Tormenting Furies]
O nobly-born, although one liketh it not, nevertheless, being pursued from behind by karmic tormenting furies, one feeleth compelled involuntarily to go on; [and with] tormenting furies in the front, and life-cutters as a vanguard leading one, and darkness and karmic tornadoes, and noises and snow and rain and terrifying hail-storms and whirlwinds of icy blasts occurring, there will arise the thought of fleeing from them.
Thereupon, by going to seek refuge because of fear, [one beholdeth] the aforesaid visions of great mansions, rock-caverns, earth-caverns, jungles, and lotus blossoms which close [on entering them]; and one escapeth by hiding inside [one of such places] and fearing to come out therefrom, and thinking, 'To go out is not good now'. And fearing to depart therefrom, one will feel greatly attracted to one's place of refuge [which is the womb]. Fearful lest, by going out, the awe and terror of the Bardo will meet one, and afraid to encounter them, if one hid oneself within [the place or womb chosen], one will thereby assume a very undesirable body and suffer various sufferings.
That [condition] is an indication that evil spirits and rākshasas [or demons] are interfering with one. For this time there is a profound teaching. Listen; and heed it:
At that time -- when the tormenting furies will be in pursuit of thee, and when awe and terror will be occurring -- instantaneously [visualize] either the Supreme Heruka, or Haya-grïva, or Vajra-Pani, or [any other] tutelary deity if thou hast such, perfect of form, huge of body, of massive limbs, wrathful and terrifying in appearance, capable of reducing to dust all mischievous spirits. Visualize it instantaneously. The gift-waves and the power of its grace will separate thee from the tormenting furies and thou wilt obtain the power to select the womb-door. This is the vital art of the very profound teaching; therefore bear it thoroughly well in mind.
O nobly-born, the dhyani and other deities are born of the power of Samādhi [or meditation]. Pretas [or unhappy spirits or shades] and malignant spirits of certain orders are those who by changing their feeling [or mental attitude] while in the Intermediate State assumed that very shape which they thereafter retained, and became pretas, evil spirits, and rākshasas, possessed of the power of shape-shifting. All pretas, who exist in space, who traverse the sky, and the eighty thousand species of mischievous sprites, have become so by changing their feelings [while] in the mental-body [on the Bardo-plane].
At this time, if one can recollect the Great Symbol [teachings] concerning the Voidness, that will be best. If one be not trained in that, train the [mental] powers into [regarding] all things as illusion [or maya]. Even if this be impossible, be not attracted by anything. By meditating upon the Tutelary Deity, the Great Compassionate [One], Buddhahood will be obtained in the Sambhoga-Kāya.
[The Alternative Choosing: Supernormal Birth; or Womb-Birth]
If, however, O nobly-born, thou hast, because of the influence of karma, to enter into a womb, the teaching for the selection of the womb-door will be explained now. Listen.
Do not enter into any sort of womb which may be come by. If compelled by tormenting furies to enter, meditate upon Hayagriva.
Since thou now possesseth a slender supernormal power of foreknowledge, all the places [of birth] will be known to thee, one after another. Choose accordingly.
There are two alternatives; the transference [of the consciousness-principle] to a pure Buddha realm, and the selection of the impure sangsaric womb-door, to be accomplished as follows:
[Supernormal Birth by Transference to a Paradise Realm]
In the first-the transference to a pure paradise-the projection is directed [by thinking or meditating] thus:
'Alas! how sorrowful it is that I, during all the innumerable kalpas since illimitable, beginningless time, until now, have been wandering in the Quagmire of Sangsāra! O how painful that I have not been liberated into Buddhahood by knowing the consciousness to be the self hitherto ere this! Now doth this Sangsāra disgust me, horrify me, sicken me; no hath the hour come to prepare to flee from it. I myself will so act as to be born in The Happy Western Realm, at the feet of the Buddha Amitābha, miraculously from amidst a lotus blossom.
Thinking thus, direct the resolution [or wish] earnestly [to that Realm]; or, likewise, to any Realm thou mayst desire -- The Pre-eminently Happy Realm, or The Thickly-Formed Realm, or The Realm [of Those} of Long Hair, or the Illimitable Vihāra of the Lotus Radiance, in Urgyan's presence; or direct thy wish to any Realm which thou desirest most, in undistracted one-pointedness [of mind]. By doing so, birth will take place in that Realm instantaneously.
Or, if thou desirest to go to the presense of Maitreya, in the Tushita Heavens, by directing an earnest wish in like manner and thinking, 'I will go to the presence of Maitreya in the Tushita Heavens, for the hour hath struck for me here in the Intermediate State', birth will be obtained miraculously inside a lotus blossom in the presence of Maitreya.
[Womb-Birth: The Return to the Human World]
If, however, such [a supernormal birth] be not possible, and one delighteth in entering a womb or hath to enter, there is a teaching for the selection of the womb-door of impure Sangsāra. Listen:
Looking with thy supernormal power of foresight over the Continents, as above, choose that in which religion prevaileth and enter therein.
If birth is to be obtained over a heap of impurities, a sensation that it is sweet-smelling will attract one towards that impure mass, and birth will be obtained thereby.
Whatsoever they [the wombs or visions] may appear to be, do not regard them as they are [or seem]; and by not being attracted or repelled a good womb should be chosen. In this, too, since it is important to direct the wish, direct it thus:
'Ah! I ought to take birth as a Universal Emperor; or as a Brāhmin, like a great sal-tree; or as the son of an adept in siddhic powers; or in a spotless hierarchical line; or in the caste of a man who is filled with [religious] faith; and, being born so, be endowed with great merit so as to be able to serve all sentient beings.'
Thinking thus, direct thy wish, and enter into the womb. At the same time, emit thy gift-waves [of grace, or good-will] upon the womb which thou art entering, [transforming it thereby] into a celestial mansion. And believing that the Conquerors and their Sons [or Bodhisattvas] of the Ten Directions, and the tutelary deities, especially the Great Compassionate [One}, are conferring power thereon, pray unto Them, and enter the womb.
In selecting the womb-door thus, there is a possibility of error: through the influence of karma, good wombs may appear bad and bad wombs may appear good; such error is possible. At that time, too, the art of the teaching being important, thereupon do as follows:
Even though a womb may appear good, do not be attracted; if it appear bad, have no repulsion towards it. To be free from repulsion and attraction, or from the wish to take or to avoid -- to enter in the mood of complete impartiality -- is the most profound of arts. Excepting only for the few who have had some practical experience [in psychical development], it is difficult to get rid of the remnants of the disease of evil propensities.
[Instructions to the Officiant]: Therefore, if unable to part with the attraction and repulsion, those of the least mentality and of evil karma will be liable to take refuge amongst brutes. The way to repel therefrom is to call the deceased by name again, thus:
O nobly-born, if thou art not able to rid thyself of attraction and repulsion, and know not the [art of] selecting the womb-door, whichever of the above visions may appear, call up on the Precious Trinity and take refuge [therein]. Pray unto the Great Compassionate One. Walk with thy head erect. Know thyself in the Bardo. Cast away all weakness and attraction towards thy sons and daughters or any relations left behind thee; they can be of no use to thee. Enter upon the White Light-[Path] of the devas, or upon the Yellow Light-[Path] of human beings; enter into the great mansions of precious metals and into the delightful gardens.
[Instructions to the Officiant]: Repeat that [address to the deceased] seven times over. Then there should be offered 'The Invocation of the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas'; 'The Path of Good Wishes Giving Protection from Fears in the Bardo'; 'The Root Words [or Verses] of the Bardo'; and 'The Rescuer [or Path of Good Wishes for Saving] from the Ambuscades [or Dangerous Narrow Passage-Way] of the Bardo'. These are to be read over thrice. 'The Tahdol', which liberateth the body-aggregate, should also be read out. Then 'The Rite which Conferreth of Itself Liberation in [Virtue of] Propensity' should be read too.
[The General Conclusion]
By the reading of these properly, those devotees [or yogis] who are advanced in understanding can make the best use of the Transference at the moment of death. They need not traverse the Intermediate State, but will depart by the Great Straight-Upward [Path]. Others who are a little less practiced [in things spiritual], recognizing the Clear Light in the Chönyid Bardo, at the moment of death, will go by the upward [course]. Those lower than these will be liberated -- in accordance with their particular abilities and karmic connexions -- when one or other of the Peaceful and Wrathful Deities dawneth upon them, during the succeeding [two] weeks, while in the Chönyid Bardo.
There being several turning-points, liberation should be obtained at one or other of them through recognizing. But those of very weak karmic connexions, whose mass of obscuration is great [because of] evil actions, have to wander downwards and downwards to the Sidpa Bardo. Yet since there are, like the rungs of a ladder, many kinds of settings-face-to-face [or remindings], liberation should have been obtained at one or at another by recognizing. But those of the weakest karmic connexions, by not recognizing, fall under the influence of awe and terror. [For them] there are various graded teachings for closing the womb-door and for selecting the womb-door; and, at one or other of these, they should have apprehended the method of visualization and [applied] the illimitable virtues [thereof] for exalting one's own condition. Even the lowest of them, resembling the brute order, will have been able -- in virtue of the application of the Refuge -- to turn from entering into misery; and, [obtaining] the great [boon] of a perfectly endowed and freed human body, will, in the next birth, meeting with a guru who is a virtuous friend, obtain the [saving] vows.
If this Doctrine arrive [while one is] in the Sidpa Bardo, it will be like the connecting up of good actions, resembling [thus] the placing of a trough in [the break of] a broken drain; such is this Teaching.
Those of heavy evil karma cannot possibly fail to be liberated by hearing this Doctrine [and recognizing]. If it be asked, why? It is because, at that time, all the Peaceful and Wrathful Deities being present to receive [one], and the Māras and the Interrupters likewise coming to receive [one] along with them, the mere hearing of this Doctrine then turneth one's views, and liberation is obtained; for there is not flesh and blood body to depend upon, but a mental body, which is [easily] affected. At whatever distance one may be wandering in the Bardo, one heareth and cometh, for one possesseth the slender sense of supernormal perception and foreknowledge; and, recollecting and apprehending instantaneously, the mind is capable of being changed [or influenced]. Therefore is it [i.e. the Teaching] of great use here. It is like the mechanism of a catapult. It is like the moving of a big wooden beam [or log] which a hundred men cannot carry, but which by being floated upon water can be towed wherever desired in a moment. It is like the controlling of a horse's mouth by means of a bridle.
Therefore, going near [the body of] one who hath passed out of this life -- if the body be there -- impress this [upon the spirit of the deceased] vividly, again and again, until blood and the yellowish water-secretion begin to issue from the nostrils. At that time the corpse should not be disturbed. The rules to be observed for this [impressing to be efficacious] are: no animal should be slain on account of the deceased; nor should relatives weep or make mournful wailings near the dead body; [let the family] perform virtuous deeds as far as possible.
In other ways, too, this Great Doctrine of the Bardo Thödol, as well as any other religious texts, may be expounded [to the dead or dying]. If this [Doctrine] be joined to the end of The Guide and recited [along with The Guide] it becometh very efficacious. In yet other ways it should be recited as often as possible. The words and meanings should be committed to memory [by every one]; and, when death is inevitable and the death-symptoms are recognized -- strength permitting -- one should recite it oneself, and reflect upon the meanings. If strength doth not permit, then a friend should read the Book and impress it vividly. There is no doubt as to its liberating.
The Doctrine is one which liberateth by being seen, without need of meditation or of sadhana; this Profound Teaching liberateth by being heard or by being seen. This Profound Teaching liberateth those of great evil karma through the Secret Pathway. One should not forget its meaning and the words, even though pursued by seven mastiffs.
By this Select Teaching, one obtaineth Buddhahood at the moment of death. Were the Buddhas of the Three Times [the Past, the Present, and the Future] to seek, They could not find any doctrine transcending this.
Thus is completed the Profound Heart-Drops of the Bardo Doctrine, called The Bardo Thödol, which liberateth embodied beings.
[Here endeth the Tibetan book of the Dead]